Posts Tagged ‘omar puente’

Top of the World albums: Songlines #126 (April 2017)

Posted on March 1st, 2017 in Features, Recent posts by .

Here is our selection of the top ten new releases reviewed in the April issue of Songlines. Tracks from each of these albums are included on the free cover-CD with issue #126.

To buy the new issue or to find out more about subscribing to Songlines, please visit:



Out Here Records
Luyando is a triumphant return from Zimbabwe’s favourite young band, full of slick vocal harmonies and catchy rhythms. The songs reflect the traditions and their roots in Tonga life.
Amazon | iTunes



Inna de Yard
The Soul of Jamaica
Chapter Two Records
Stripped down, roots reggae, featuring booming hand drums, muted trumpets, mellow guitar and soulful vocals.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Bargou 08
A no-nonsense electro-acoustic album recorded in a remote region of north-west Tunisia, known as the Bargou valley.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Maria Pomianowska
The Voice of Suka
For Tune
A beautiful and inventive album of Polish suka (fiddle) playing by a renowned collaborator. This lyrical composition is underpinned by vari-pitched drumming and wordless vocals.



Rhiannon Giddens
Freedom Highway
Nonesuch Records
This album strives to join the dots between slave narratives, the Civil Rights era and today’s Black Lives Matter movement.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



La Mambanegra
El Callegüeso y Su Mala Maña
Movimientos Records 
Some of the most raw, passionate and visceral salsa being made anywhere in the world, featuring a tight and funky brass section, and led by vocalist and veritable engine-room Jacobo Vélez.



Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal
Bafe’s Factory
The debut from four highly versatile Finnish vocalists. Through beatboxing, singing, sighing and other vocal effects, they have created an album comprised entirely of vocal sounds.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Omar Puente
Best Foot Forward
OP Records
A varied and compelling album. Puente’s electric violin is enhanced by his multi-national sextet, creating a jazzy fusion imbued with a range of cultural influences.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Debashish Bhattacharya
Hawaii to Calcutta: A Tribute to Tau Moe
Riverboat Records
An endearing album mixing classics popularised by Tau Moe with Bhattacharya’s own compositions.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify



Warsaw Village Band
Sun Celebration
Jaro Medien
Global trance music with lyrical inspiration drawn from Poland’s oldest folkloric song material. The group’s signature massed vocals form the base of this texturely packed record.
Amazon | iTunes | Spotify

Pick up the April issue of Songlines to enjoy our Top of the World cover-CD, which contains tracks from each of the albums above. To find out more about subscribing to Songlines, visit:

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Songlines Encounters Festival 2013 – Part 2

Posted on June 10th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Words by Simon Broughton (Editor-in-Chief, Songlines)

Day 3 (Friday, June 7) The idea of Songlines Encounters is to present artists from around the world that we think deserve wider exposure. The sold-out concert on Day 3 featured artists who’d had Top of the World albums in 2012. One of my picks of the year was Aduna by Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko, from Senegal. Sow sings and plays hoddu (an instrument similar to the ngoni lute) and guitar, while Sissoko is a terrific kora player. The musicians had an elegance, sophistication and warmth on stage and their music, with female vocalist Talike Gellé and Cheik Mbacké Gueye on calabash percussion was full of subtle textures. A class act that returns for the London African Music Festival in September.

Another standout album from last year was that of Palestinian oud and percussion duo Ahmad Al Khatib & Youssef Hbeisch, also known as Duo Sabil. Khatib is one of the best oud players I’ve heard, getting a fantastic range of colours from his instrument, while Hbeisch entices a universe of sounds from his kit, somehow making a big frame drum sound like a wailing wind instrument. Thrillingly, they were joined in this Encounters performance by classical guitarist John Williams, who began with a solo set of Spanish classics by Albéniz and Tárrega, colourfully evoking Moorish Spain. In Tárrega’s ‘Recuerdos de la Alhambra’, Williams’ tremolo guitar sang out in an extraordinary lyrical legato. With this Andalusian atmosphere, the connections between the classical guitar and the oud could not have been made more clearly.

Before they began their collaboration, Hbeisch enthused: “You cannot imagine how thrilled we are to be on stage here with John Williams!” But it was clearly a relationship of mutual respect and Williams told me how equally impressed he was by their music – which he discovered through Songlines. In their final piece there was a gorgeous oud solo, though I do wish John Williams had been given his moment to shine as well.

Malick Pathé Sow & Bao Sissoko
©Haydn Wheeler

Day 4 (Saturday, June 8) featured two contrasting bands, but both with Latin piano at their heart. Audience member Sarah, a welcome regular at these events, was dancing enthusiastically from the beginning down the front. First on were Lokkhi Terra, led by Bangladeshi-born Kishon Khan on the ivories sporting a Che Guevara beret, adding to the Cuban vibe. Their exuberant big-band, with Cuban, Bangladeshi, British and Indian musicians, makes the Bengali/Cuban connection sound extremely natural. “We have exactly the same cockroaches” said Khan in his pre-concert chat.

Then pianist Alex Wilson led his Trio Mali Latino onstage. With Edwin Sanz (from Venezuela) on percussion and Ahmed Fofana (from Mali) on a glorious range of instruments including donsongoni and balafon, the trio were aided by special guest Omar Puente, who contributed some stylish Cuban violin. And thankfully, there was time for a grand finale which brought everyone to their feet and featured a welcome stage invasion of West African dancing.

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Songlines Encounters Festival 2013 – Part 1

Posted on June 8th, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

Words by Simon Broughton (editor-in-chief)
Photography by Hayden Wheeler

The exciting realisation from the first two days of Songlines Encounters has been that interesting, adventurous programming attracts top musicians, and with no prior warning we found Nigel Kennedy in the audience on our opening night and Robert Plant the following night. Both were knocked out by what they heard.

Day 1 (Wednesday, June 5) kicked off with Transkaukazja – a great Polish-meets-Georgian project brought to us by the Polish Cultural Institute in London. It sounded great on paper and was a revelation on stage. The Polish ingredient was Vołosi, a string quintet so tight that it was like one instrument played by five people, and the Georgian ingredient was members of 33a, led by the charismatic Niaz Diasamidze who growled his lyrics in Georgian, Russian and French. Both bands were in the UK for the first time. Lyrical, exciting and adventurous music – and I really enjoyed learning more about the work The Other Space Foundation are doing with music in the Caucasus. Something I hope we can explore more in Songlines.

Next it was a great Balkan party with three bands – Paprika, She’Koyokh and Yurodny (over from Dublin) playing different styles of music and getting together for a fabulous grand finale (pictured above). At the heart of Paprika is the superb fiddler Bogdan Vacarescu, vocalist Cigdem Aslan is part of a tremendous female trio fronting She’koyokh and sax player and arranger Nick Roth brings a jazzy sound to Yurodny. The number of notes per second record won’t be beaten anywhere else in the festival.

It turns out Nigel Kennedy is friends with Cora Venus Lunny, the brilliant violinist with Yurodny, and he kindly invited all the musicians home for an aftershow party. The grand finale continued and got more uproarious in his front room – with Nigel joining in on ‘Ajde Jano’ in which the melody was tossed around between four fabulous violinists. Around 2:30am Nigel stopped as he was topping up glasses with vodka and said “Listen, these mother-fuckers just love to play. Not like the classical guys who just go home to bed.” It was one of the greatest jam sessions I’ve been to.

Day 2 (Thurday, June 6) saw the Baladi Blues Ensemble entice Robert Plant with his son and daughter down to Kings Place. Guy Shalom did a fabulous job introducing people to the soulful street sound of Cairo’s baladi music – with Egyptian masters Ahmed Khalifa on sax, Gamal el Kordi on quarter-tone accordion and lovely vocals from Abdul Salam Kheir. Hopefully more and more people are going to discover this beautiful music.

Sarah Savoy was dressed in a bright red dress and hair tied back, looking much like Judy Garland, for her Cajun music set with the Francadians. But her brilliant stage banter – about beer, women throwing their knickers at Belton Richard and other great characters of Cajun music wasn’t Dorothy’s territory. Thankfully there was some sly dancing going on, adding to the atmosphere, and Sarah played so hard she broke a guitar string. She told me afterwards that she had sent a message to her mate Steve Riley (one of the best-known Cajun musicians) about Robert Plant being in the audience. “Go on Sarah, rip it up” he responded.

Songlines Encounters – endorsed by the top musicians!

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Songlines Encounters Festival 2013

Posted on May 31st, 2013 in News, Recent posts by .

We’re now only a few days away from the start of this year’s Songlines Encounters Festival. The event takes place between June 5-8 at Kings Place in London. You can expect an array of musical a marriages over the four days, including a range of Eastern European flavours, guitarist John Williams with the Palestinian Duo Sabil; West African, Cuban and Bangladeshi jazz, plus performances from some of our favourite emerging and established artists.

To purchase tickets CLICK HERE

Wednesday June 5

Transkaukazja: Volosi & 33a / HOPA!: Paprika, She’Koyokh and Yurodny

The Leading Polish folk group Volosi meets Georgia’s 33a, led by the charismatic Niaz Diasamidze, recently seen in Songlines [#89] for his work with Lo’Jo. The two bands first played together in Tbilisi in 2011 and are now taking this Transcaucasian meeting on a European tour. HOPA! (pictured left) is a Balkan-flavoured triple bill. Three outstanding groups collaborate on this special Songlines Encounters event. Paprika, She’Koyokh and Yurodny are all specialists in various Balkan styles, giving this evening a fiery, yet seductive, flavour. Each group will play their own set and come together in an extravagant collaboration of over 20 musicians at the end.



Thursday June 6

Baladi Blues Ensemble / Sarah Savoy and the Francadians

Tonight we let the good times roll – in Cairo and Louisiana. Led by dynamic percussionist Guy Schalom, the Baladi Blues Ensemble features two veteran Egyptian musicians – Sheik Taha on quarter-tone accordion and Ahmed El Saidi on saxophone. Their gorgeous baladi music comes from the countryside – baladi means ‘rural’ or ‘local’ – but it became the traditional soundtrack of urban Cairo as people flocked to the city to work. Singer and guitarist Sarah Savoy (pictured left) comes from one of the great families of Cajun music who’ve been letting the good times roll in Louisiana for years. With her French band the Francadians, she performs repertoire from the early roots of Cajun and Zydeco music, the honky-tonk inspired Cajun songs of the 40s and 50s and her own original songs of today



Friday June 7

Malick Pathé Sow and Bao Sissoko / Duo Sabil with John Williams

Tonight we showcase plucked strings – from West Africa and the Middle East. Malick Pathé Sow and Bao Sissoko (pictured left), from Senegal, are true masters of Senegalese traditional music. Their Aduna album was one of the African music highlights of last year. Vocalist Sow started out in Baaba Maal’s band and plays the hoddu (desert lute), while Bao Sissoko is a virtuoso on the most sublime of West African instruments, the 21-string kora. Palestinian musicians, Ahmad Al Khatib and Youssef Hbeisch on oud (Arabic lute) and percussion are the spectacular Duo Sabil, two of the best musicians playing Arabic music today. John Williams is, of course, one of Britain’s best-loved classical guitarists. He’s always been interested in a wider repertoire and collaborated frequently with the Chilean band Inti Illimani and with fellow guitarist John Etheridge playing African music and jazz.


Saturday June 8

Lokkhi Terra / Alex Wilson’s Trio Mali Latino with Omar Puente

Tonight West Africa meets Cuba and Bangladesh. Lokkhi Terra are one of London’s best-kept secrets and probably the world’s best Afrobeat-Cuban-Bangladeshi group. The key figure behind it all is Kishon Khan. From a Bangladeshi background, he became fascinated with Cuban music and visited Cuba often to acquire his Latin piano skills. By pulling in players from London’s diverse musical tapestry, Khan has assembled a band with Bangladeshi vocalists, Cuban percussion, an Afrobeat drummer and a lot more besides. Another fine Latin jazz pianist, the British-born Alex Wilson, is behind the Trio Mali Latino (guitarist Ahmed Fofana pictured left). This is the debut performance of the touring group drawn from his Mali Latino album, one of the stand-out records of 2010, which takes jazz and Latin rhythms back to their African roots while still sounding dynamic and modern. The grand finale to Songlines Encounters with three musicians and a multitude of instruments, plus special guest Omar Puente, from Cuba, on violin


See our festival line-up page for more details or visit the Kings Place website. #SEfest13

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